The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Shiv Sena is open to consider quitting Maharashtra’s ruling MVA alliance if the rebel MLAs camping in Assam return to Mumbai within 24 hours and discuss their grievances with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, party MP Sanjay Raut said on Thursday, indicating a big shift in stand that surprised ally Congress, while the NCP said it wants the coalition government to complete its term.Reaching out to rebel MLAs, Raut, who is the Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson, said the party’s “doors are open” to them, and all issues raised by them can be resolved through talks.As political crisis in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, triggered by Shiv Sena cabinet minister Eknath Shinde’s revolt three days ago, raged three more MLAs of the party left for Guwahati in the BJP-ruled Assam to join the rebel camp.A day after Thackeray made an emotional appeal to rebel MLAs of his party and offered to resign in a bid to placate them, his trusted aide Raut indicated the Shiv Sena is ready to consider leaving the MVA headed by it, a demand put forward by Shinde who has dubbed the three-party bloc as an “unnatural” alliance.Shinde is currently camping with 37 rebel MLAs of the Sena and nine independents in Guwahati. The NCP and Congress also share power in the Uddhav Thackeray-led dispensation.“You say you are real Shiv Sainiks and will not quit the party. We are ready to consider your demand provided you come back to Mumbai within 24 hours and discuss the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Your demand will be considered positively. Don’t write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp,” Raut, who is the party’s chief spokesperson, told reporters here.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“The rebels who are out of Mumbai have raised the issue of Hindutva. If all these MLAs feel that Shiv Sena should walk out of the MVA, show guts to come back to Mumbai. You say you have issues only with the government and also say that you are true Shiv Sainiks…Your demand will be considered. But come and talk with Uddhav Thackeray,” he added.In a tweet in Marathi later, Raut said, ‘Why wander aimlessly. The doors are open and issues can be resolved amicably through talks. Let’s take a decision with self-respect instead of accepting slavery.” Reacting to Raut’s comments on his party considering quitting the MVA, Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said he did not think Chief Minister Thackeray, who also heads the Shiv Sena, would do an “about-turn” and agree to the rebel MLAs’ demand that the party pull out of the ruling alliance.“Does Sena want to join hands with the BJP in Maharashtra? The motives of Shiv Sena are not yet clear,” Chavan, a former chief minister, told reporters.“I have not heard Uddhav Thackeray sounding like this in his Wednesday evening’s public address. I would be surprised if Uddhav Thackeray does such an about-turn in less than 24 hours. I don’t think that Thackeray would do that,” he said.It was not even clear whether Raut was articulating the Sena’s official stand,” Chavan added.“There is not even clarity about which faction of the Shiv Sena should be considered as authentic face of the party (in view of the rebellion),” the Congress leader added. State NCP president Jayant Patil, meanwhile, said his party had not yet discussed Raut’s comments.“But we want this government to complete its full term as it has taken some good decisions,” he added.“Those who leave Sena lose the election later,” Patil, a state minister, added.On the rebel Sena MLAs’ stand that they did not wish to be a part of the MVA because of the “corruption” of NCP and Congress ministers, Patil said the statements of individual legislators should not be treated as the Sena’s official stand.Praful Patel, another NCP leader, said party chief Sharad Pawar “formed the MVA and he still wishes that it remains intact.” Three more Shiv Sena MLAs – Deepak Kesakar (MLA from Sawantwadi), Mangesh Kudalkar (Chembur) and Sada Sarvankar (Dadar) took a morning flight from Mumbai for Guwahati, a close associate of Shinde said.On Wednesday evening, four MLAs, including Maharashtra minister Gulabrao Patil, had flown to Guwahati.After reaching Guwahati, Shinde had claimed the support of 46 legislators, including some Independents. The rebel leader had given a letter to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly’s deputy speaker, signed by 35 Sena MLAs, replacing Sunil Prabhu with Bharat Gogavale as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party.Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal said he has approved the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as the Shiv Sena’s group leader in the House, replacing rebel legislator Shinde.The Shiv Sena on Tuesday removed Shinde as the party’s group leader in the Assembly, hours after he revolted and and travelled to Surat in Gujarat with some Shiv Sena MLAs, triggering a crisis in the ruling alliance.Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Zirwal said, “I have received a letter from the Shiv Sena, informing me that it is appointing Ajay Choudhary as the party’s leader in the Assembly and removing Shinde from the post with immediate effect.” Shiv Sena MLA Kailas Patil, who had escaped from a car carrying rebel legislators to Surat on Monday night, claimed in Mumbai that some of those siding with Shinde might be wanting to return, but were forced to stay back.Another Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat has written a letter to the Chief Minister claiming Shinde took the step of going against the party leadership as party MLAs, who faced “humilitation” for the last two-and-a-half years, persuaded him to do so. Shirsat, the MLA from Aurangabad (West) Assembly constituency, in the letter claimed despite the Shiv Sena heading the MVA and having its own chief minister, the coterie around Thackeray never allowed them access to ‘Varsha’, the CM’s official residence.
At 23 per cent, the Covid positivity rate in Pune in the week ending June 27 was twice that of Maharashtra, according to a state health department report. The Covid weekly positivity rate for Mumbai and Thane in the period was recorded at 16 per cent each.At present, Maharashtra’s weekly Covid positivity rate stands at 12 per cent.According to data, Mumbai has shown an 11 per cent decline in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 12,479 cases being detected vis a vis 14,089 in the preceding week. In contrast, Pune has shown a 66 per cent rise in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 3,583 cases being detected as compared to 2,157 in the preceding week.Experts say there has to be a sustained decrease in the number of cases in the next three to four weeks to affirm whether cases have peaked and are now showing a decline. “This can be anecdotal but patients who contacted me last week with symptoms like fever, cold and cough have tested positive for Covid. A number of them are using rapid antigen tests to get quick results,” Dr Sanjay Pujari, infectious diseases consultant, said.Tally of BA.3, BA.4 patients reaches 63According to the latest report from the National Institute of Virology, seven patients of BA.5 and two of BA.4 variants of Omicron have been detected in the state. These include four from Palghar, three from Raigad and two from Thane from samples collected from May 31 to June 11. 🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨In all, there are 63 patients of BA.4 and BA.5 of which 15 are from Pune, 33 from Mumbai, four each from Nagpur, Thane and Palghar, and three from Raigad.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has lost majority in house and a floor test is in order, the BJP told the Governor this evening. The party delegation was led by Devendra Fadnavis, who headed for the meet on his return from Delhi. Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:"We have written to the Governor and told him that Shiv Sena's 39 MLAs are repeatedly saying they don't want to be in an alliance with the Congress-NCP. This means they are not with the government," Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting."So we have told the Governor that he should ask the Chief Minister to conduct a floor test and prove majority," he added.Mr Fadnavis -- the predecessor of Uddhav Thackeray on the top post -- headed for the Governor's House straight from the airport. He was accompanied by Girish Mahajan and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.In Delhi, Mr Fadnavis had a 30-minute strategy session with BJP chief JP Nadda this evening amid speculation about the party staking claim to form government.Earlier today, sources had said the Governor may ask Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove majority this week.The Team Thackeray had requested the Supreme Court that no floor test be allowed till the matter of disqualification notices to 17 rebel MLAs be settled. The court has refused to pass orders on it.In a day of fast-paced developments, Mr Thackeray sought a meeting with the rebels on their return to Mumbai, which is likely on Thursday."I want to appeal to you - time is still not lost. Please come, sit with me, remove all doubts from the minds of Shiv Sainiks and the public, then we can find a way out. We can sit together and find a way out," Mr Thackeray wrote.Eknath Shinde, who is leading the coup aganst Uddhav Thackeray, said that he would go to Mumbai "soon" and "take Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy forward", indicating that he is ready for the next move. He claims he has the backing of around 50 MLAs, nearly 40 of them from the Shiv Sena.The Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of masterminding the revolt and hounding its leaders using investigating agencies. Uddhav Thackeray's key spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, was summoned today by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case but he refused to go. Mr Raut terms the summons a conspiracy. Comments
◾ A tailor in Udaipur was hacked to death today by two persons allegedly for posting a social media statement in favour of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad. With the city tense following the murder, internet services have been suspended, and 600 police personnel along with senior officers are being sent to Udaipur. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has appealed for peace. “Strict action will be taken against all the criminals involved in this incident and the police will go to the bottom of the crime. I appeal to all parties to maintain peace,” he said.◾ Meanwhile, in Delhi, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was sent to four-day police custody over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments. On Zubair’s arrest, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community.”◾ In Maharashtra, where the political turmoil refuses to abate, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs to return, saying he is “worried” about them. “Don’t fall prey to anyone’s missteps. The honour given to you by Shiv Sena cannot be found anywhere. If you come forward and speak, we will sort out the issues. As Shiv Sena party chief and family head, I am still worried about you. Come here for a dialogue,” he said. His appeal came hours after Rebel leader Eknath Shinde said he will soon return to Mumbai.◾ In other news from the city, four people were killed after a helicopter operating for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) made an emergency landing off the Mumbai coast. The chopper, with nine people on board, ditched in the sea 60 nautical miles away from Mumbai near Sagar Kiran rig on Tuesday morning.◾ In business news, the GST Council today approved changes in tax rates on some goods and services while allowing states to issue an e-way bill for intra-state movement of gold and precious stones. The Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also cleared a host of compliance procedures for GST-registered businesses along with a GoM report on high-risk taxpayers to check evasion.◾ Mukesh Ambani has resigned from the board of his group’s telecom arm, Reliance Jio and handed over the reins of the company to elder son Akash, a step seen as succession planning by the 65-year old billionaire. In a stock exchange filing, Reliance Jio Infocomm said the company’s board at a meeting on June 27, “approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors of the company.”Political Pulse◾ The BJP is hoping for gains beyond the immediate in its storming of the Samajwadi Party bastions of Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in the recent bypolls. The planning and strategy to secure the constituencies, supervised by senior leader Amit Shah as per sources, have punched holes in the SP’s confidence in its loyal Muslim-Yadav vote bank. The results also fit in with the BJP’s Mission 2024 plans, which it has already set in motion. With the SP having mounted a creditable challenge to it in the recent Assembly elections, the BJP knows the party as the one to beat in the state, and these two seats were its best chance of sending a message to the party. Liz Mathew reports.◾ From the Urdu Press: As a major political turmoil roiled Maharashtra with an intra-Shiv Sena power struggle pushing the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government to the brink, the country’s leading Urdu newspapers provided its saturation coverage in their news and commentary pages. In their reporting and analysis, they also focused on the July 18 Presidential election, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s appeal challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 Gujarat riots, spotlighting the subsequent arrests of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad and ex-DGP RB Sreekumar.Express Explained◾ ‘Hermit’ is the latest sophisticated spyware in the news, and it is believed to have targeted iPhones and Android devices in Italy and Kazakhstan. Hermit’s deployment – the spyware has been developed by an Italian vendor called RCS Lab – was first reported by cyber security researchers at the Lookout, a San-Francisco-based cybersecurity firm. What is Hermit, what exactly does it do on a device, and how can users keep themselves safe? We explain.◾ The G7 countries, who are meeting during the ongoing Leaders’ Summit in Germany, have officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries. The project, launched on June 27, is being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative. What is PGII, where are funds being directed under the plan, and what has been China’s response to the announcement? Read here.
The Shiv Sena Tuesday raised the issue of renaming of Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar and said the state cabinet will take a decision on the matter Wednesday.“In today’s cabinet, I have raised the issue of renaming Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar. A resolution to this effect will be discussed in the next cabinet meeting that will be held on Wednesday,” minister Anil Parab said after the cabinet meeting Tuesday.The Shiv Sena’s decision to rake up the renaming issue comes at a time when it is facing a serious political crisis with a large chunk of party MLAs having deserted the Sena. The rebel MLAs have over the past few days questioned the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s commitment to Hindutva, stating that the party is gradually being weaned away from its core ideology.In the late 1980s, Aurangabad became one of the first major cities outside the Mumbai-Thane belt that the Sena set its eyes on, said political pundits. The city’s 30 per cent Muslim population made it fertile ground for polarisation, and soon after riots that led to the killing of over 25 people, in 1988, the Sena won the elections to the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.On May 8, 1988, Shiv Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray announced the renaming of the city as Sambhaji Nagar after Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji, who was killed by Aurangzeb. In 1995, the corporation passed a resolution to do so, and the Shiv-Sena led government in the state issued a notification seeking suggestions and objections from people on this.The notification was challenged in the Bombay High Court by then AMC Congress corporator Mushtaq Ahmed. While the plea was dismissed by the Court stating that no decision had been taken, the renaming has remained a contentious issue and resurfaces ahead of every election.With the Shiv Sena in power, both the BJP and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have over the past two years been criticising the Sena for its failure to rename the city. Sena’s MVA allies, the Congress and the NCP, have not been too keen on the renaming of the city.In March 2020, the MVA government had cleared a proposal to rename the Aurangabad airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport. However, this has not yet got the go-ahead from the Centre.
With the battle between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde now virtually a tussle over who controls the “real Sena”, one of the outfits rallying support at the Mumbai end is the Yuva Sena.The youth wing of the party founded by Balasaheb Thackeray as the vehicle for grandson Aaditya in October 2010, who was then just 20, the Yuva Sena continues to be his baby. And as Aaditya takes on the Shinde faction from the forefront, so is the Yuva Sena, with rallies of party workers planned in every ward of the state, leading up to a meeting in the district, and campaigns being waged on social media.One such rally was held on June 25 at Birla Matoshri Griha in South Mumbai, with Aaditya addressing the ‘Yuva Sainiks’. In his speech, he called the rebel MLAs “dirt”, and said their leaving was good riddance. There will be two floor tests, he warned, one in the House (Assembly) and the other on the roads.“They (the Sena rebels) will have to land first at the airport, and remember the way to Vidhan Bhavan passes through Bandra, Worli, Parel and Byculla,” he said, hinting that the MLAs will have to face the Shiv Sainiks.Aaditya is now holding rallies almost every day to interact with cadres that the party is trying to hold on to, and as per the party, has been drawing a good response.Since the Yuva Sena was announced, by Thackeray Senior himself at the Sena’s marquee annual Dussehra rally, with the handing over of a sword to Aaditya, the latter has used it to build a profile for himself, while filling a crucial gap in the party’s support base. The Sena till then (and even now) was essentially a party of the working class, tapping into their fears and aspirations, and moulded for itself a rugged, aggressive image its base could identify with.The Yuva Sena made its space instead in colleges and universities, particularly in the metro areas, and raised issues that matter to youths and students. It also has an IT cell. The cadre is projected as tech-savvy, modern and elite, as compared to the common Shiv Sainik who works at the grass-root level.Another reason for the formation of the Yuva Sena was to take on the earlier party youth wing, Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), which was controlled by Raj Thackeray. When Raj left the Sena in 2005, almost all the BVS leaders and cadre switched sides with him, leaving the Sena virtually no presence in that space. The BVS itself had not done much to cultivate support on the campus.With Raj Thackeray’s MNS seeing early success in the corporation and even Assembly elections of 2009, the Sena had moved quickly to anoint Aaditya, who was seen as more aggressive than father Uddhav.Incidentally, one of the accusations levelled at Aaditya, who has headed the Yuva Sena since its formation, by rebels now is his endorsement of “progressive” causes that often go against the Sena’s own core.Apart from Aaditya, cousin Varun Sardesai is active in the Yuva Sena. As are offspring of Sena leaders, MLAs, MPs and others. This has given it a heft and clout which other grass-roots cadres see as disproportionate to its work. The Sena rebels’ list of grievances include the positions cornered by the Yuva Sena in the party.